Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

2.15.2011

Don't Tangle With Character

A few weeks ago, I went to see Tangled in the theater with some friends. It was funny, charming, entertaining, romantic, creative, and beautiful to see. And I came out with those warm fuzzies that most Disney princess movies leave me with; Tangled seemed to be continuing the tradition of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. As a female, I was somewhat bothered by Rapunzel's attitude towards her "mother," despite the fact that the woman she disobeys and runs away from is not actually her mother, but rather her kidnapper. Rapunzel doesn't know this, however, so we discussed the quandrary as we walked out of the theater. Was it right, was it wrong? How will it affect viewers?

Now, I'm not the type to swoon over fake guys set up in fake storylines with fake good looks. I've never "fallen" for an actor, nor have I wished that Cinderella's prince would leave her and come bounding out of the TV screen for me, or that Darcy would come to his senses and end up with a nice, modern, American girl. However, the unfortunate result is that I'm much less critical of masculine characters. I bristle at the feminism portrayed in so many films, and I react to the sorry worldliness of so many of the females in films. I noticed and rejected some of these same attributes in Tangled. However, it didn't even occur to me to think about Flynn Rider (Rapunzel's savior and love).

Until a guy pointed it out to me. Here is a man who is an unremorseful thief, an unashamed traitor to his country, and an excellent liar. He is conceited, selfish, and lazy, but he is also good-looking and seems to have "chemistry" with Rapunzel, so I and the rest of the theater audience (read: little girls) didn't really notice. To be fair, the 100 minutes teach him a lot of life lessons, and he loses the conceit, the selfishness, and the laziness. He learns to love someone other than himself, and he learns the beauty of helping others when there is no benefit to him.

Hmmm.

There is no apology. There is still not much remorse. The implication is that the love of a beautiful woman suddenly transformed him. And what's wrong with that? Almost every Hollywood love story worth its weight in candy hearts and rose petals has the rogue-boy-meets-innocent-girl-and-melts-into-a-good-boy-before-her-angelic-charms. But I have seen this storyline play out in real life too many times to be deceived--very rarely does it work out so well for the innocent girl. Almost always, the innocent girl is the one charmed into thinking that her love transformed this man, only to discover on her honeymoon that he is still a rogue. He has never changed, and he very likely will never change.

And then there's the guy's perspective. Tangled has been billed as a movie for girls and boys--but what are the boys supposed to think after watching the hero steal and fight and lie his way through the first sixty minutes, only to magically change in the final third of the movie? Do we really want men to think that they can spend their prime in dissipation until they finally decide to succumb to that legendary ball and chain? This is certainly not the type of man I am looking for, and Flynn Rider should be the last choice--not the first--for a princess.

Yes, I've turned 160 degrees in my opinion of this latest Disney offering (I'm not to the 180 stage yet, because my eyes are still glittering with the amazing paper lantern scene and my ears are still ringing from the soundtrack). I've never properly analyzed male characters, but now I realize that they are just as abused as all the terrible female characters I've groaned over through the years. Can we have a love story where two flawed, imperfect human beings who nevertheless possess strength and character fall in love not out of their mutual hatred for each other but because of their tandem worldviews and mutual admiration for each other's strengths? Pop some popcorn! I think I hear Little Women calling my name.




P.S. Next week we will be celebrating two years of blogging on One Bright Corner. There are so many exciting things planned, starting on Monday!

Painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806)

11 comments:

  1. I watched the movie and enjoyed it like the other fairy tales but in reality, I know a girl will never a man like Flynn Rider on first glimpse. What I enjoyed is Maximus, the horse.

    Congratulations on your 2nd year anniversary. I look forward to what will happen on One Bright Corner

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  2. Unfortunately, good stories rarely make good drama. The best movies that I have seen that aren't focused on the aspects you mentioned are the Love Comes Softly series.....they are more realistic for the era.
    Love your posts, they are great!

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  3. Sey--it was interesting to me to compare *Tangled* with the other fairy tales and realize that, while the classic stories certainly aren't model love tales, they do have more model characters. Maximus was hilarious--I still laugh out loud to think of him (for everyone else who hasn't seen the movie, Maximus was a horse who acted exactly like a dog). Thanks so much for the congratulations, too--we have many exciting things in store for this next week, and this next year!

    Jessica--very true insight. And I did enjoy the first few movies from the *Love Comes Softly* series--the first one especially is heart-rending and challenging in its unique and realistic portrayl of love. The future ones digress, though, in my opinion. Thank you for commenting and for the encouragement!

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  4. I enjoyed "Tangled," though did not really care for Flynn's character through most of the movie. You shared some good insights, Mikaela. Now, popcorn and "Little Women" are two of my favorites. :)

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  5. Speaking of movies and men, have you seen "The Magic of Ordinary Days"? Oh my. I completely melt over Ray. His sweet, Christ-like love for Livy is such a rare thing to see in any product of Hollywood. That movie always reminds me of what one of the elders of our church always says, that if a husband truly loves his wife as Christ loves the church, there is no woman who won't respond to and blossom in that love.

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  6. Thanks Ruthie!

    Kelsey--I have seen that one (though it's been awhile)! While I wouldn't recommend it for younger viewers because of Livy's indiscretions (which, however, are very discreetely presented), Ray's selfless love is an example to all. And what a sweet thought from your elder!

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  7. "the innocent girl is the one charmed into thinking that her love transformed this man, only to discover on her honeymoon that he is still a rogue." Too many marriages are crammed into that sentence.

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  8. It's tragic, Alyssa, it really is.

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  9. We, my mother, sister, a friend and I went and saw that movie and laughed hilariously throughout. However, when it was finished all of us had a nagging thought that it just wasn't quite right. Your insight nailed it right on the head. After discussing it, we also came to the same conclusion you so eloquently wrote above. And yes, while we still did not agree with the portrayal of Flynn and the "attitude" of Rapunzel we did enjoy Maximum and the beautifully well done soundtrack.

    It is so wonderful to be able to discuss and get others gifts to help see through the glamour the world puts on a seemingly innocent video. I really do appreciate yours and your sister's posts. My sister and I love reading them and then discussing them with our mother afterwards. It is just another fun way to be together and get built up at the same time. Thanks.

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  10. Hello Mikaela!

    I'm was just stopping by from another blog and, wow! I am really impressed with what you're doing over here! Is always a blessing to find a blog that is an encouragement to Christian girls.

    Blessings-
    näna

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  11. M&M--it's amazing how subtle the movie is in its condonement of wrong behavior! And you just put a beautiful picture into my mind of you, your sister, and your mom having chats on your bed or in the kitchen--probably reaching greater heights and deeper thoughts than we managed here on the blog. Aaah, family--its a wonderful thing!

    Nana--thanks for not only visiting, but also leaving a comment! I am encouraged by everyone who takes the time to write out a comment, and I hope that you'll be back so I can get to know you better!

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